Mika hovered around the entrance of the gazebo for a moment, then nodded to herself and moved next to Eric. They stood beside each other, Eric keeping his gaze fixed to the stars. After a few silent minutes he turned his back to them and wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her near to him. They embraced and he rested his lips against her forehead as she tucked herself closer to him.
The occurrence was not unfamiliar. Their engagement had begun on a night quite like this one, even. Every so often, perhaps a handful of times in a year, she would wake to him leaving their bed and padding quietly outside. She would wait for fifteen or twenty minutes, giving him time for his thoughts to air themselves, even if only in his mind, before joining him. She stayed just close enough to feel a hint of his body heat, and let him know she was there when he was ready.
He did the same for her on those nights when Mika woke up in a cold sweat, ripping herself away from nightmares and slipping onto the balcony to brace herself with fresh air and escape from a room that suddenly seemed unbearably stuffy. Though she had learned much and won many a battle since her first real fight with a devil, she had never quite gotten over that experience. It still haunted her occasionally, that afternoon when her hands had first wet with blood, if indirectly and justifiably. More often were nightmares of a mundane sort, but as ugly in their own way. Memories of a childhood spent wondering why her father never said he loved her, of an adolescence telling herself that he was a very busy person, it was nothing against her, of wearing a happy mask at home like an armor. Memories of the crushing despair she had sometimes felt, trapped, suffocating under the weight of her father’s ambitions, never feeling worthy enough. Horrible fantasies where all since then had been a dream, where her brothers had never come, first freeing her and then letting her save herself, where all the days of laughter were delusions of a lonely mind, where Erik, her Erik, so sweet, so kind, so caring, so like her that they must be kindred souls, had never existed outside of her brain.
Their communication in those times was wordless, first by intuition and then by agreement. They would talk during the day, when darkness was more easily dispelled. The night was for letting emotion make itself known, letting yourself feel it before letting it wash over and away, basking in physical comfort and togetherness.
Both had their own fears and darknesses, and they faced them together. They conquered what they could and accepted what they could not, treated themselves and each other gently, and let the morning light shine in and illuminate them. They were not ashamed.